One thing I would change in advertising: Scrap the soul-destroying timesheets - Pete Petrella

Pete Petrella

Continuing our 'One thing I would change...' series in the run up to Creative Social's #CSpresents event on 3 September, Black Book London founding partner Pete Petrella lays waste to the dreaded timesheet.

I have a deep hatred of timesheets. Every time I’ve had to fill one out I’ve felt like a piece of my soul was being torn apart, the antithesis of why I wanted ‘being creative’ to be my so-called career.

I remember the very first time I was introduced to a timesheet system. It was called Timesheet Pro. I was working at the newly created wheel and this was all part of our growing up. A man from north of Watford with a swagger – a club comedian – told us excitedly how we could log our time by the minute and that we could even go ‘Back, In, Time…’ Mercy, it was a dark day.

There will be some reading this – I hope – thinking ‘yeah, damn straight, no timesheets from now on’, but… you know that at the end of this week or early next you’ll get a note from your manager or someone in finance saying “timesheets”. I know this because I’ve sent that email on more occasions than I care to mention.

Now, I realise this might sound a little naïve because we need a way of charging for what we do but, I’ve found timesheets to be an inaccurate, sometimes misleading and debilitating mechanism that focuses people on the art of filling time rather than making every minute of those 8 hours count for your clients.

Selling time, especially when it comes to creativity within advertising and more generally around the edges of planning and client servicing, I increasingly think is a bit mad and I’d change it to one of value. What value do you actually add? Is it admin? A good sounding board? Innovative ideas? Everyone has his or her thing and personally, I’d start there and put a figure on that.

In our fledgling firm we try to strike a balance between consultancy/ideas (value) and projects/production (time), keeping the two things separate where possible.

The sweet irony is that this is an opinion and I dislike those even more than timesheets. If you want to hear why, come along to CS Presents… now I'm off to self-flagellate for writing this.

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